By Brian Sandalow
For the Sun-Times
Coach Tom Thibodeau seemed to be in a decent mood Friday. The Bulls were minutes removed from what he labeled a “regular” practice, one that included a somewhat-rare scrimmage for this point of the season, and Thibodeau sounded pleased.
“It was good because it gives us a chance to build some continuity,” Thibodeau said.
“Basically, we have to concentrate on the guys we do have, and we have to improve. There’s a lot of areas to clean up and try to build continuity. We’ve had guys in and out all year.”
Oh, that last part. It never seems to go away.
Guard Derrick Rose, the most notable in-and-out guy, only took part in the noncontact portions of practice, sitting out the scrimmage on the four-week anniversary of the latest surgery on his right knee.
General manager Gar Forman said Rose was expected to return in four to six weeks.
Thibodeau said Rose most likely would be cleared for contact next week, though he didn’t want to jump ahead.
Rose’s return would help the Bulls build the continuity Thibodeau craves. But the Bulls also have gotten used to playing without Rose.
“It’s been almost half a season this year, all last year and the year before,” Thibodeau said. “So we have a good understanding of what we have to do.”
The Bulls are in the middle of a light stretch of games, which opened up the opportunity to scrimmage and build that elusive continuity.
After the home game Saturday against the woeful Knicks, they don’t play again until Wednesday in Milwaukee.
“We got a lot of guys that can really play,” forward Mike Dunleavy said.
“My thought would be somehow we can get a lineup in there that will figure it out and be pretty good down the stretch.”
The Bulls have been healthier recently with guard Jimmy Butler and forward Taj Gibson back, and they’ve won four of their last five games, creating some chatter that they’re hitting a late-season stride.
But Thibodeau doesn’t care much about the discussion.
“We have to be more concerned with the process of how we’re approaching it and putting the work in to give ourselves the best chance possible,” Thibodeau said.
“Talk is talk. I want to see action.”
Thibodeau is only interested in victories and strong practices.
“Jimmy looks good for being out so long; Taj is working his way back,” Dunleavy said. “Obviously, we have one more guy we’re waiting on. But to get these guys back and also get a little time in practice the next 10 days, two weeks will be good.”
That Rose guy they’re waiting on is the one player who changes the look and complexion of the Bulls when he’s at his best.
“He looks good, but unfortunately the games are full-contact,” Dunleavy said. “He’s got to be looking good when he starts doing contact and practicing, and that will come in due time, hopefully in time for our playoff run.”
NOTE: Forward Doug McDermott (back soreness) practiced but is questionable for the game against the Knicks.